Urn for ashes, woman

Apparently you can buy anything on Amazon I think as once again I am in a club I don’t want to belong to

He says what do I do now without her? And I tell him, she is not there. That is not where she is

Echoing the conversations between angels and other Marys

I tell him what I would tell you, or me or anyone–a dog on the street if I had to–

She is eternal and the pain we feel is that verification that we must seek eternity

Seek the one who can

Get us

Past our terrible selves

Mary Joanna Lee

Mary was born on January 1, 1993. She was born to ________ and _______and is survived by _____________________________________. She had kids with__________, who preceded her in death by a handful of months, days, minutes, hours.

Her children are bright little lights, and I want to gather all of them to me, sing with them, raise them onto strong shoulders, proceed with them in a march more wedding than funeral, acknowledge that no life is actually just a handful of years, months, days, hours, minutes, things smaller than that, things that can only be measured by Hands torn for

For her, for me

He precedes us in life, in death, in life again

Walk out of that grave, girl, walk into life

All because of Him

Mary Jo

If I am honest, you were often a pain in the ass. Your attachment disorder meant that I was the primary target of your anger when you were growing up, which was not fun, but good for me.

I remember you when you were little, I remember the stress, chaos and exhaustion. We would look at you and Charles when you were asleep and say, they are cute when they are asleep.

find myself trying to construct an old play fort out of this gray day, the sky folded into the quilted tent

This is heaven, I tell myself, this is Mary, she was college-aged, after all. She could be here, Heaven could be this, the thin line between the realms could be as gossamer as time itself–

Yesterday you were among the living

And now I return to the prayers I prayed when I held you as a child, fierce ball of anger

Oh, God,

Make us real

Make us vivid

Wipe away the tears, the past, the unbearable

All things made new

Test of the “I Was”-es (Part 1)

Matthew 25:35-39 KJV

[35] For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: [36] Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. [37] Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee ? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? [38] When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee ? [39] Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

The test of the I-was-es:

Seeing Jesus in all our weakness and need

Who protects the wary?

John 5:3-4 KJV

[3] In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. [4] For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

My first question for you is–do you believe there was an angel who came down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the waters?

So one person each time could be healed?

Crazy, right?

But no crazier than believing that Jesus healed the man who had been at the pool so long, who does not turn out to be the most grateful healed man.

I have skirted the issue of the angel at the pool for years, choosing instead to focus on Jesus and the man and the religious oligarchs who made it hard for Jesus.

I understand that angel complicates everything–messenger of God who brings some healing, brings some hope only

In a certain season.

Eternal Sea

When I wrote the slim, hasty, typo-ridden memoir Just, I used pseudonyms.

I chose to link my adopted children’s pseudonyms to their first initials C became Sea,

Sea like the color of his eyes

Sea like the cold ocean we stood in together

Sea like the depths, the hidden things both beautiful and terrible, the bigness of it all

Sea, placeholder for the God who makes seas then makes them evanesce

C is lost to me for now. He has disowned both me and the God who made me

But I can still remember

The time you hit your mouth on the hard metal of the seesaw and we had to rush you to the dentist

The way we would wait until you were sleeping to exclaim over your cuteness because

Most times when you were awake there was both sturm und drang

The time we went to the shore and I carried you on my back and you pummeled my head all the way back to the car

If I had a dollar for every time you hurt me or someone else I love dearly

It would not begin to be as much as you are worth

Of your eternal value

Of the Light you can become forever

If you just

Turn and face the Sea.

Ah, the tattoo!

When I was dealing with the trauma of finding out that a little boy I had taken in as a toddler had grown up to become a terrible person I

Had three things

I decided to use as grief-points:

Get a nose ring

Shave my head

Get a tattoo.

This week I have had to face that sometimes “a tattoo” is a luxury item

In a pandemic

In the way grief

Can worm its way into the fabric of who a person is

I am losing something else

Like a tattoo, a marker of the grief

And I found what I would put on that tattoo–

Love is

Unmistakable

The Feast of Thorns

Long before our terrible story your birthday was already

the feast of Servites pruning winter roses. I cling to that now, all the other days this day could be:

Obstinate mountains lumber into obeisant seas

Lame men whole, blind men see

Dead men rise and shake off their shroudy bindings

impossible things all around ya

If only you will

See

The Real Quiet Place

In the stories of Jesus’ public ministry there are accounts of people who have been healed of skin diseases which would have set them apart from their communities due to infection prevention measures codified by the Mosaic law.

In some of these stories, Jesus heals them and gives them permission to not tell people they were ever infected with these diseases.

I think this injunction was made (at least in part) to allow them to have a new life, unencumbered by prejudice.

When my family moved to a new place a few years after we found out that our adopted son had sexually assaulted some of our children, I realized that this was our chance to “start anew.”

We had pushed for legal consequences for Charles. We had a good counselor in the aftermath. We moved to protect the children. We were open with everyone in our previous community.

But we chose to continue

To tell our story.

The result has been fascinating and lonely.

There is a lot of prejudice about victims of sexual abuse and their families, maybe especially in churches.

We could be contagious?

Maybe

Or maybe it is our openness that scares them.

Either way, we call it “the island.” We live on an island

An island made of truth and pain and loneliness

With a single, unwavering resident

The one who heals us.

The one who knows this quiet place.

The one who tells us the truth will set us free.

My family is healthy, happy, and stable because we have never tried to hide

The story of our grief

But it can be quiet

On the island.